Monday, 10 September 2018

Summer trails - a too-hot studio leads to new methods (new for me anyway!)








































(Untitled) oil on linen board.
50 x 40 cm, 20 x 16 inches

 view on etsy.com

This is the last medium sized oil painting I completed, back in April.

 I really like these linen boards from Jackson's; they're well made with crisp clean edges. 
They also seem to cope well with the various techniques I use,
including scoring,scraping down and dragging with painting knives!






I also recently got a new Canson Figueras painting paper pad; it's
large enough to cut into smaller sizes for small format pieces. 
I really love the texture of this paper. It's also pretty tough and very well prepared
for oils.






























...Oils being pretty messy to work with, you do need a 
dedicated room to fully go to town with them. 

My studio room soon became wayyy too hot and stuffy to work in comfortably 
this summer. I had to retreat downstairs. 

At first I simply tried working on smaller oils on canvas board:





























But there was a deeper problem; I'd been feeling quite stuck with oil 
as a medium.  Once you've fallen for oil painting, it exerts a strong pull. It's so
charismatic a medium that few of us who fall for it can ever escape its
allure, I suspect. Yet here I was accumulating an increasing number of 
unfinished paintings that I didn't know how to progress with.
I felt I'd lost my way with what I wanted to express;
I knew I wanted to progress and change but felt so immobilized somehow.
When I tried to continue everything felt so rehearsed and stilted.
I was also feeling something changing in regard to how I see abstraction
and figuration, and sometimes finding that I was wanting to bring figurative
elements into my imagery and enjoying looking at lots of c20th and recent book
illustrations, for example.
And so, yielding to circumstances, I first started sketching again, or rather scribbling again, 
and then began exploring ink, watercolour, and gouache, still on smaller surfaces. 

Often I was working on a melamine tray in my lap, 
with a small stretched sheet of watercolour paper,
 or using the top of the tumble drier as a table(!) 
that lives near the window in my living room. 
Oh yes, we're very much on trend and boho around here! 


Recent shot of the top of my tumble drier:































At first I was quite upset by how bad I was at drawing after such a long gap!
But soon I stopped being so self-conscious and began to have fun again
sketching from films, YouTube videos, random housefronts found on Google,
studying favourite illustrator's styles, and so on.



I got a great little softcover pocket sketchbook from Stillman and Birn's Epsilon series
(the one on the right). The pages are quite thick, smooth and will take a light wash
although they do cockle quite a bit with watercolours :



















I also bought a Fabriano Venezia small sketchbook which is hardcover and has
wonderfully textured pages of heavyweight Fabriano Accademia 200gsm acid-free paper:
























...a few watercolours from a local art shop and some choice items from Cult Pens:

























... and a great mixed-surface Curtis Ward/Bockingford sketchpad of watercolour paper,
particularly useful if you're a beginner in watercolour/pen and wash etc,
starting off small and unsure of which type of surface you prefer:















































As for the oils, I'll return to them if and when I feel excited
about them again and know they are the right medium for what I want to express.
I never know quite what this is until I've made a mess with them. So very different to 
the way many watercolour and gouache artists and illustrators work. 

Meanwhile, the 'recent works on paper' section in my etsy shop reflects 
this renewed love for smaller format, playful mixed media paintings:
To etsy


Are you finding that exploring a new medium or being forced to alter your method of 
expression has freed you up creatively? Where did it lead? I'm curious, let me know! :-)

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